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Small businesses are investing more of their time, money and resources by effectively strengthening relationships by implementing a loyalty program.  If you are a small business owner that has not leveraged the use of a loyalty program, you should…and this is why:

The January 2014 report “Achieving Big Customer Loyalty” focussed on surveying 1,000 small business owners practices and released its findings; that it is imperative that brands create personalized experiences for their loyal customers.  The results are astoundingly in favor of a business implementing a loyalty program. “Manta” reported that of 1,000 small businesses (members of Manta) surveyed, 50% of business owners reported 61% of their annual revenue came from repeat customers.  Loyal customers were spending 67% more than a new customer.  As a result, businesses were only allotting 14% of their marketing budget  towards the acquisition of new customers.  So it can be said, that future marketing dollars are better spent not by chasing a new customer, but by maximizing the value in customers they already have!   Unfortunately, only 34% of small business owners have adopted a loyalty program for their business, and those that have are using the tired old punch card.

For any loyalty program to be successful, it requires mass adoption.  And offering a another plastic card to a customer just doesn’t cut it in today’s high paced tech savvy world!  I for one automatically balk at the request of a store clerk that is offering me another piece of plastic for my wallet.  It is time to enter the world of mobile marketing…why not offer your loyalty program in the form of a mobile app?  In doing so, it allows a business owner to not only offer their customer the benefits associated with a loyalty program, but it gives the business a way to reach their customer on a platform that is the most engaging, and on a device that they have with them 24 hours a day.  The custom mobile app offered by Mass Mobile is a product that does just that!   The businesses that adopt this type of high tech engagement, get the instant credibility of being found on the “App Store” , which in the past was reserved for large scale operations, along with the ability to market in way that is sure to have the message being sent, seen by the target audience.  Push notifications have the ability to been on a users smartphone just like a text message…and these messages are opened at a rate of 99.8%.  This is staggering when compared to emails sent by businesses getting open rates of between 15-30%.  The question is no longer, will a business adopt a mobile app, it is when will they adopt it?

Small business owners need to engage with its customers to increase its sphere of influence and to create meaningful relationships by creating personalized experiences. “Every retail brand now understands that acquisition is just the first step, and that retention is a top priority for achieving profitability.”  Since 89% of consumers already participate in some type of loyalty/rewards program, the time is now to implement your own marketing loyalty strategy. Ted Williams, BIA/KELSEY’S Professor of Strategic consulting, confirms that customer loyalty programs are starting to gain traction in the small business community and went even further to say that these findings align BIA/KELSEY’S analysis that over half of small businesses will launch customer loyalty programs by the end of 2014 to help their businesses be more competitive.

Don’t be left behind, grow your sales and be on the forefront of the new way to do business!

Mobile Apps will Transform Your Business

A survey conducted, by Daniel Burns with over 700 companies asked them, if they had developed any mobile apps internally to help them with supply chain management, logistics, purchasing or sales and or support.  At this point only approximately 4 percent said yes, which is extremely low considering how many smartphones and mobile devices are on the market today.  The follow up question was even more interesting: ” Do you think that at least half the businesses in your industry will have their own mobile apps for these types of functions within the next 2 years?”  The response was amazing, 100 percent said “YES!”

So what does this mean for your business?  It means that mobile apps designed by business for either internal use, or to gain a competitive advantage will explode over the next 2 years.  Which way is your business leaning?  What are the trends?  A hard trend will happen; a soft trend might happen. The hard trend is that businesses will be developing mobile apps customized for their company for various functions. The soft trend is whether your company will be one of them.

Here’s something else to consider: The number of smart phones and tablets in all sizes of companies has obviously exploded in the last couple of years, and this hard trend is picking up speed.  So with costs decreasing and capabilities increasing, the time to act is now. The question is, “How?”  A mobile app that targets your customers and is able to deliver your marketing message in a way that is unique and current.  A platform your customers will see value in, and an app that they will not only download, but keep on their mobile devices.  What better solution than a custom mobile loyalty app, this addresses both issues.  Your customers will find value in it because they are getting something back in the form of reward dollars of points, and you will have the ability to market to those same customers. Marketing via mobile ensures your message is being seen, any app that is of value will have the ability to send push notifications.  A push notification is basically a text message that is targeted to your customers, and the open rates are astounding…98.7% as compared to 12-20% with emails.

You need to get ready for the mobile business app revolution now. Remember, there are two revolutions taking place: a hardware revolution (where our primary personal computer is shifting to our mobile devices like smart phones and tablets) and a software revolution (which is the mobile apps that will run on those devices). That means the rise of mobile apps for all business functions is a hard trend you can’t ignore.  The companies that transform their business processes using mobility will achieve new levels of success. The time for business process transformation is now.

10 Crucial Questions to ask when optimizing your Company’s website for Mobile Users:

1. My website looks okay on mobile devices now. Is it really worth it just to make it look and feel as slick as possible on smartphones and tablets? 

Yes, without a doubt, says Brian Alvey, “chief scientist” at Ceros, a cloud-based real-time web content authoring platform. Global fashion, auto and retail brands look to Ceros to publish interactive marketing experiences that are designed to “work flawlessly” on all types of devices, and smartphones and tablets are no exception.

“Mobile used to be the future of business,” Alvey says. “Mobile used to be a trend. Now it’s the norm.” The bottom line: If you don’t adapt to mobile and quick, you could miss out on a prime revenue-generating opportunity, or even lose customers to competitors who already embrace mobile.

2. Should I have a dedicated mobile version of my existing website or simply make my existing website responsive to mobile? 
You have two choices. You can either opt for a single website that displays content responsively for different device and browser types, otherwise known as responsive web design. Or you can create a standalone dedicated mobile website separate from your main website. If your main site is www.examplesitehere.com, then your dedicated mobile site would likely appear as m.examplesitehere.com. The .m signifies mobile.

Alvey prefers an all-in-one responsive site. He says he’s heard that Google and Bing prefer them as well.

3. Should I try to mobile-optimize my website myself or delegate it to someone on my staff?  
Particularly for small businesses that are light on resources, it’s best to leave it to the pros. The mobile optimization process is generally too cost-prohibitive, complicated and time-consuming to go in-house.

“Most SMBs can’t justify even a single full-time designer, so in-house isn’t an option,” Alvey says. “Unless you have the time and experience to directly manage freelance designers, I’d hire a company [to do the job].”

4. What are some of the best mobile optimization options available and what do they cost?
Luckily, there are a wide variety of solutions available for every budget. Alvey suggests deciding what you’re willing to spend, then choosing the best available option from there.

Alvey’s favorite mobile services are from popular website hosting companies like WordPress(free hosting, plus premium upgrades), GoDaddy (hosting costs $4.99 to $7.99 per month) andSquareSpace (free 14-day trial, hosting costs $8 to $24 per month). Each offers a broad array of automatically mobile-friendly, attractive prefab website designs, features and themes, plus premium add-ons.

Another is b Mobilized, whose slogan is “mobilize any website… instantly.” This can be a smart option if you simply want to add mobile responsiveness to your existing website. The service’s software mobilizes your site with the click of a button. Pricing is monthly and reasonable at $15.20 per month annually or $19 month-to-month.

5. Should I just hire a contractor? 
Hiring a contract web designer for the job is also an option, though it could cost you more in the end than using an online solution. Alvey says web designer fees are generally charged hourly and vary quite a bit from city to city. If you do go the contractor route, he advises that you hire locally and carefully check customer references before committing.

6. What are some key, must-have mobile site features?
Required mobile features vary, Alvey says. “Obviously, if you don’t have e-commerce, then a shopping cart is useless.” But if you do sell goods online, you should definitely include one in your mobile design. Or, if you own a brick-and-mortar retail business, be sure to prominently display your store address and hours, and perhaps a link to driving directions as well.

Another essential feature all businesses should position front and center is a “click-to-call” phone number. All mobile users have to do is click the number and their smartphone will call you, allowing them to instantly and directly engage with your business.

“Never forget that a customer who is checking out your business on their phone — is holding a phone.”

7. What about social media integration?
Social media integration is like free advertising. It lets users generate a buzz around your brand. In most cases including social elements is a must. For example, on the mobile site for a free online deal-tracking service called Hukkster, first-time users can sign up to use it by entering their Facebook (and Google) credentials. Hukkster’s Facebook integration makes it easier for its users to share their favorite product discounts with their friends on the popular social platform, while simultaneously broadening Hukkster’s marketing reach on Facebook.

Alvey points out that, because they’re so inherently visual, hotels and fashion companies thrive on Instagram and Pinterest, so those particular platforms make sense to integrate into their mobile sites. Whereas Twitter integration is a better fit for airlines and TV shows, which tend to experience high engagement on the microblogging service, he says.

Whichever social platforms you settle on, it’s wise to limit yourself to only two or three social media sharing buttons, not a dozen, Alvey says.

8. What’s the best way to test my mobile site before launch?
Test-driving your site helps you discover and weed out bad links, confusing navigation and a host of other potential functionality issues. Be sure to test yours on as many devices and browsers possible, “not just the ones your team or your CEO uses,” Alvey says.

Interestingly, he also suggests swinging by Best Buy, which he cheekily calls a “free mobile testing lab,” or a similar consumer electronics retailer to check your site out on as many of their sample smartphones and tablets as possible. You’ll get a hands-on feel for what works and what doesn’t — at zero cost.

9. How can I track the success of my mobile strategy? 
The most popular, user-friendly website traffic and usage tracking option available is Google Analytics. The free self-service tool shows you how many people visit your mobile site, from which devices and how often, along with where they live, how they found your site and much more. It also tells you which social channels drive people to your mobile entity and what content they share from it. Use what you learn to fine tune your mobile strategy over time.

10. What are some common mistakes to avoid?
One of the biggest blunders is poorly targeting which devices users will view your content on, Alvey says. “If you send my Android phone to a desktop version (of a website) or my iPad to a smartphone version (of a website), you’ve lost me as a customer.”

Other common mistakes on Alvey’s list of mobile mistakes to skip include: crowded designs with links that are too close together for people’s fingers to accurately click, not optimizing image sizes for mobile bandwidth, making people fill out complicated forms and “harassing me to download your app.”

This blog was taken from:

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/10-questions-ask-optimizing-website-mobile-users-110000724.html

 

Lets Make a Deal

Price sensitivity is increasing amongst consumers. they want the best price and they are willing to trade in convenience if it will keep dollars in their pockets.  This is a harsh reality that retailers must grab by the horns. Remaining idle is not an option in this lagging economy.  Consumers regardless of their income will seek out the most value for their hard earned dollars!  Shoppers perceived purchasing power has decreased, and as a result price sensitivity has increased.  With the growth of smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices, searching for and finding the best value is a practice that is now cemented in a consumers path to purchase.  This make a deal mentality can be met by retailers investing in their own mobile loyalty app.  An app is where marketing and customer service can come together by;

1)  meeting your customers changing needs

2) providing customers the ability to connect with you

3) provide a consistent experience, whether it is in store, online, phone or your app

4) being available to your customers on their schedules

An app is  very cost effective and gives the price sensitive customer a positive experience. By offering high value cash back in the form of loyalty rewards or other incentive based systems that add value perceived by the customer reflecting the interests of the business. Since the attitudes of the majority of consumers have changed to a more “deal seeking” variety,  it is essential that your customer feel valued.  Even Forbes magazine listed ist Business Essentials to include, a Website, a phone number, and a Mobile App.  Mobile Apps are the most current and easiest way to connect with people on an intimate basis.  A mobile message or push notification is opened 98.7% of the time, while an email gets an open rate of 20-25%.  The mobile market is far too big to ignore, so get your mobile strategy in place now!

5 Things you must know about the future of Mobile Marketing

1. The future of mobile started yesterday

The future of mobile marketing has started, and it is exploding.  If your business does not have a mobile strategy in place today, you had better have one soon! Most of the world’s biggest retailers and corporations have not jumped on the bandwagon yet either, but that landscape is changing everyday.  The Apple app store is adding 20,000 apps per month, and no they are not all angry birds wanna be’s.  More and more companies are launching mobile apps for their businesses.  Whether it is an online shopping app, or simply an app that contains relevant company information, mobile apps are definitely the way of the future.  The mobile app will be for businesses in the future what the website was for businesses in the past.  One of the fastest growing segments within the corporate appesephere is the mobile loyalty app.  This is a great way for companies to reward their customers, and have the access they so desperately desire to market to them as well.  Now with the explosion of smart phones, a tech savvy company that develops their own app will have the ability to reach their customers in ways that they have not had in the past.  Hits from mobile devices more than doubled from January 2011 to January 2012. In 2013, mobile web searches were expected to eclipse searches from desktop for the first time in history. Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year to start thinking about mobileget started today!

2. Mobile users are social users

If you are using social networks to market your business, you are likely already engaged with the “mobile majority, over 80% of smartphone users use their mobile devices to connect to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. On Facebook, 600 million of its 1 billion users are logging onto the site via a mobile device, and 70% of those users return to the site on a daily basis (compared to 40% for desktops).  That means, whether it’s at home, work, or at your place of businessmobile users are among the most engaged members of your social communities.  How can your business extend your brand and further your corporate goals by connecting with customers that are already in your social network?  By exploring the most current and latest technology that is available, that’s how!

3. Your Customers are accessing more information in more places than ever before

Mobile’s influence can already be seen on the life of your customer.   Consumers today are ahead of the mobile curve.  A recent study found that over 65% of all smartphone users had used their mobile devices to assist them in making a purchase, with more than 35% of those customers using their devices to research products and services while in a retail environment.  Google released a forecast for shopping projecting that four out of five smartphones will rely on mobile devices for help during the shopping season. These users are checking prices, reading reviews, and researching  your competition.  The Bottom line? The mobile consumer is an informed consumer, and it’s never been more important to have your brand up-to-date and accurate across all of your online channels.

 4. Mobile will redefine customer service

If you haven’t been monitoring your social networks for customer comments, questions, and complaints you may want to add it to your list of resolutions for 2014.  Nearly three-quarters of all companies are now using social media as a channel for customer service,  One in five consumers is already using sites like Facebook and Twitter to have their voices heard. Expect mobile to send that number skyrocketing and for social costumer service to become the norm for businesses of all sizes.

5.  Content creation is going mobile

The mobile revolution isn’t only having a profound influence on the lives of consumers, it’s also changing the way business ownersespecially small business ownersare marketing their business.  This is especially true when it comes to content creating. Coming up with content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, or an email newsletter is one of the biggest pain points facing small businesses. While smartphones aren’t guaranteed to alleviate all your content creating anxieties, they do make it easier than ever before to capture content ideas and turn everyday work experiences into engagement posts on Facebook and active-worthy articles for an email newsletter.

Here are 5 ways small businesses can use smartphones to create fresh content.

Start small, think big, and get ready

Today, less than 1% of marketing budgets are being allocated for mobile.  That’s a huge miss for business owners and, more importantlya huge disappointment for their growing mobile customer base.  But preparing your business for its mobile future doesn’t have to break the bank.  You can start by giving the channels you are already using a closer look.  Does your social media marketing strategy fit a mobile world? Does your website offer the type of experience you want on smartphones and tablets? Is your business easily discovered by online searches.  Start small, think big, and begin to plan for a bright future in mobile marketing.

How has mobile impacted your marketing strategy? We would love to know, tell us in the comments

Interview with the founder…

Q.How do you increase customer loyalty with a mobile app?

A. Today consumers are extremely tech savvy, with the explosion of smartphones, people are able to research for products and services right from the palm of their hands.  Often times they will come into your place of business and already researched the details of the product before purchasing.  Our products give business and their customers the ability to interact with each other on a level like never before. With an app tailored for a specific business, customers are able to have access to that business on their terms.

Q.  How much does it cost to implement a custom mobile app?

A.  Our products are extremely cost effective.  We have eliminated all the barriers that a business would face, the costs are minimal. You can get your app up and running for approximately $750.  With Mass Mobile Apps, there is no reason for a business owner not to adopt a mobile app for their business.

Q.  What content should be included to make an app successful?

A.  The main thing that is necessary for a successful launch is adoption.  It is imperative that businesses get their customers to not only download their app,and to keep it from being deleted off their phones.  That is where the loyalty portion kicks in, once a customer has downloaded the app, they are not likely to delete it if they have points or dollars within it.  Content is also a great tool to keep your customers engaged.  Make sure to update the gallery at regular intervals, send Push notifications, and encourage sharing of images, and marketing messages with your customers.

Q.  If a business owner implements one of your apps, are they able to tweak it to meet their needs?

A.  Absolutely!  We are a custom mobile app developer, we are able to do what ever a customer would need.  With that being said, it is important to note that our products were designed by people on the front lines, and not by techies.  We have members on our team that have worked in various areas of industry, and they have brought their experience and expertise to our platform.

Q.  Does a business owner need to be tech savvy to implement an app?

A.  Great question!  Again, going back to the last answer, we have designed this app from the perspective of a business owner.  It is extremely user friendly, and easy to understand and master.  So the answer is No, they do not have to be a programmer to use our products.

Q.  Why do you think that a loyalty app is key for a business today?

A.  Studies have shown that businesses with a loyalty program generally preform 20-25% better than businesses that do not have one in place.  And the loyalty app is the most current means of implementing that program.  Customers do not want another plastic card in their wallets.  By having your own app, you are further extending your brand.  You have the instant credibility of being on the “App Store” and you are also now able to reach your customers in a way that was not available in the past.  Traditional marketing tools like email are becoming less and less effective.  Business owners today need to know that their marketing efforts are being channeled effectively, and that their resources are being used wisely.  Today their is no better way to do that, than with your own mobile app.  The mobile app will be for business in the future, what the website was for business in the past!

Not just Loyalty, Customer Engagement

It is of utmost importance when acquiring new customers and when keeping existing ones that you develop a deep brand affinity and ultimately loyalty to your brand.  This can be done in a variety of ways that will give you measurable results and produce feelings of engagement necessary to achieve your goals for your business. Since, when most customers are offered compelling rewards that they find valuable, they will choose to follow the cues necessary to retain the reward offered. As a result, true loyalty can be defined as something that rewards both the brand and the customer.In order to propel your business forward and become more competitive, a business must have a strategy in place before it can execute and implement a program that will deliver results.  First you must define the goal you have in mind for your business e.g. increase traffic flow, increase profitability, and retain new customers…

You must know exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your loyalty program. In today’s high tech fast paced world, consumers are not interested in spending more time then they need to, to get what they came for.  So you as a business owner need to tailor your program around your customers. A smart phone mobile loyalty app would be a great way to do just that.  Early adoption would give your company and your brand the credibility of being the first in your industry to launch such an innovative way to engage with your customers.  It is critical however that you choose the right platform when launching your program.  Make sure your app has features your customers would find of value, for example your app may feature a gallery displaying images of new arrivals thus, increasing engagement with existing customers or your app may feature accumulative point system that customers will find appealing, as well as rewarding.  It is also very important that in order for this program to be not only engaging with your customers, it is also effective for you as a business owner to achieve what you want to do.  Platforms with built in marketing tools, like push notifications, customer analytics, and sharing features are the way to go.

It is important that during the process of implementing your loyalty program that you not only invest your money but your time as well so that your strategies are being implemented properly. The less complicated, and user friendly your program is, will determine how successful your loyalty app will be.  It is a process, that you can fine tune accordingly until your loyalty program is to your satisfaction. A loyalty app should set you apart from your competitors by being a reflection of the image that you want for your business.  The value that your customer will find in your loyalty program is based on the value that is perceived by that customer. Trend setting businesses are in the “Know.” They are the ones that are able to deliver to the needs and wants of their customers. The advantages of knowing what your valued customer preferences are, and by ensuring those demands are met are two fold; the first being loyalty and the second being engagement both of which are key to further your business. It is the merchant’s knowledge of its customer that will determine brand affinity and ultimately its success at achieving engagement.   Mass Mobile customizable loyalty app can help get you to where you want to be!